Hontiveros: ‘Regrettable’ that PH won’t rejoin ICC
MANILA, Philippines— For Senator Risa Hontiveros, it is “regrettable” that the Philippines has decided not to rejoin the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Hontiveros raised this question in a statement Monday, “Bakit tila may pag-aalinlangan yata?” – after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines “has no intention of rejoining the ICC.” Although she acknowledged that “it is the prerogative of the President.”
(Why does it seem like there’s some hesitation?)
“It is the prerogative of the President, though it is regrettable as the Rome Statute is the collective commitment of the community of nations against state-sponsored impunity,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III likewise agreed that the decision on whether to join a treaty or an international organization is part of the President’s privilege.
“President Marcos is the decision maker on if and/or when to join an international organization or treaty,” Pimentel explained in a Viber message to reporters on Monday.
He, however, said, “I disagree with his decision BUT since he is the President, it is his decision which will be followed.”
Still, Hontiveros remains hopeful that the President would not “undermine or block investigations of acts or violations that took place before the Philippines withdrew from the ICC.”
“Mandato pa rin nila ang mag-imbestiga, kaya dapat hindi sila maharang sa kanilang trabaho. Kung wala namang itinatago, dapat hindi matakot ang sinuman sa imbestigasyong ito,” said Hontiveros.
(It’s their mandate to investigate so they should not be blocked from doing their job. If they have nothing to hide, then no one should be afraid of this investigation.)
It was in March 2018 when then-President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC. The withdrawal took effect a year later.
The decision to withdraw from the treaty was made as Duterte was charged with crimes against humanity in connection with his administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs.
“The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC,” Marcos Jr. said during a press briefing earlier Monday as he cited his recent meeting with some Cabinet officials on the possible resumption of ICC’s investigation into Duterte’s drug war.
“Ang mineeting namin ay dahil sinasabi ngayon ay itutuloy ang imbestigasyon. Ang sinasabi namin, may imbestigasyon naman dito at patuloy rin naman ang imbestigasyon, bakit magkakaroon ng ganun?” he also said.
(We met because there are reports that the investigation will resume. What we’re saying is that we are already conducting our own investigation, so why is there a need for another probe?)
‘Reflective’ of PH’s ‘cornerstones of sovereignty’
Senator Francis Tolentino, vice chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, threw his full support behind Marcos’ decision.
“It is reflective of the two cornerstones of our sovereignty as a State: independent foreign policy and national security. The right to be an equal member in the comity of nations is reflective of our sovereignty as a nation,” Tolentino said in another statement.
The national courts, according to him, should have the “primacy in dispensing justice” which he said is recognized by the ICC’s own “complimentary principle.”
“We thus associate ourselves with other nations like the United States, India, and China in refusing to annex the Rome Statute’s sovereignty diluting mechanisms which [are] violative of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,” he pointed out.
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